Updating a mature garden
Did you know that Jersey and the Isle of Mann are not a part of the United Kingdom?
It was news to me. As it would have been, it seems, to Michael Crowley-Milling, a Welsh scientist who left half of his £2 million fortune to The Royal Society when he died.
At least, he thought he had.
Mr Crowley-Milling, who helped invent the world’s first computer touch-screens, stated in his will he wished to leave the Society all his wealth “within the UK”. The problem was, £1 million of it was stashed away offshore – you’ve guessed it – in Jersey and the Isle of Mann.
Members of his family soon realised this error, and they and The Royal Society were forced to battle over the legacy at the High Court.
After racking up many thousands of pounds in legal bills, The Royal Society emerged as victors. And all because of Mr Crowley-Milling’s surprising geographical blunder.
But not all surprises turn out to be bad ones
Out of the blue this week one of our clients sent us a delightful batch of photos. We designed their garden back in 2014, and they took these pictures to record the garden as it developed over last summer.
We’re always pleased to see our projects as they grow and mature over the years, and these photos look stunning. To give the pictures some context, we thought we’d share the story behind the garden.
A sympathetic update
We see a lot of gardens where the brief is to rip everything out and start again. But sometimes that’s not necessary – occasionally what is required is a sympathetic update. That was the case here. Their garden included some mature trees and shrubs that needed a little TLC, rather than chopping down.
As our clients explained, “we had an old-fashioned garden, which we loved, but had become quite overgrown and not very easy to ‘live’ in or maintain. We wanted a garden designer with knowledge, imagination and vision, to retain some of the original beauty of the old garden but make it a more usable space with more ease of maintenance.”
For example, at the back of the house, a set of steep concrete steps led out from the patio doors. We replaced these with a new deck to create a level exit from the house and to enlarge the living room. Much of the borders were overgrown with no real definition. By edging the lawn and creating some separation between planting areas we could confine maintenance to specific parts of the garden. A new path through most of the garden meant that the overgrown border at the back was now more accessible and added interest with planting on both sides. A new water feature was designed to be easy to access and clean.
The importance of listening
Taking on board the clients’ wish-list for their new garden is a crucial part a garden designer’s job. It’s rare that any client gives you free reign to create whatever you like. A decent designer should work with their customers’ ideas, rather than impose their designs upon them.
This was something that had worried our clients before they approached us. “We were concerned about whether our own ideas would be taken into account, and followed through to the end design.”
We made sure those worries proved to be unfounded. After we had finished the project, we spoke to our clients again and asked them about their experience: “We were delighted from the very first meeting – Anna put us at ease and was interested in getting to know us as people before we ever talked about plants. She listened well, as much of what we told her in this first meeting she managed to incorporate into the final design.”
Creating a garden is a balancing act. You start with a static framework – paving, edging, and larger items such as pergolas and water features. But then you need to weave ever-changing plants into the design. A garden can’t just look good on paper – it must continue to be attractive and appealing as it grows and changes from season to season.
Here, we dug up a lot of the existing plants and then replanted them once the build was complete. We added to these with new plants including Callicarpa bodiniere for its autumn colour and crazy purple berries, Astrantia ‘Ruby Star’, which is useful in areas where there is some shade as it flowers for ages. We also planted Zantedeschia and Lythrum near the water feature, Dryopteris and Epimedium in the dry shade under the conifers, and Hemerocallis and Rudbeckia for summer colour.
In the autumn we returned and planted a great many spring bulbs. These create a beautiful succession of flowers from late winter through to early summer.
From a chore to a delight
When we receive garden pictures like these, years after we have finished working on them, it reminds us how much our customers’ gardens mean to them. As our clients put it, “we continue to love Anna’s design and delight in seeing the garden change through the seasons. Looking after our garden has changed from being a chore to a delight.”
We are currently working on more mature gardens at the moment. The only surprises we hope to spring in these gardens are beautiful ones. If your garden needs a sympathetic designer’s touch, give us a call.
Get in touch
If you would like us to design your new garden, the first step is to get in touch via the form below. Please leave a contact telephone number.